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Wendy Reuer, Published November 07 2012

Hansen, Eken locked in squeaker in bids for MN Senate

MOORHEAD – Republican Phil Hansen of Detroit Lakes and Rep. Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley, were locked into a tight race Tuesday for the seat in the Minnesota Senate that represents Moorhead and all of Clay County.

As of 12:20 a.m., Eken led with 51 percent of the vote to Hansen’s 49 percent, with 73 of 98 precincts reporting incomplete and unofficial results.

The two are seeking the seat held by Sen. Keith Langseth, DFL-Glyndon.

Langseth has held the seat since 1980. He isn’t seeking re-election. He did, however, lend his support to state representative Eken.

Eken, 48, has served as a state representative since elected in 2002 in what was District 2A before redistricting forced him to either run against fellow DFLer Rep. Paul Marquart or run for the Senate seat. The Twin Valley High School and Concordia College graduate is a teacher.

While a representative, Eken most recently served on the Agricultural and Rural Development Policy and Finance Committee, Ways and Means Committee and Transportation Policy and Finance Committee.

He has been an outspoken advocate of reducing property taxes and loosening business startup regulations.

Hansen, 43, announced his candidacy in March. The Oakes, N.D., native is a former North Dakota State University defensive lineman and 11-year veteran of the NFL, where he played in three Super Bowls for the Buffalo Bills. He works with high school football teams and is a game commentator NDSU.

Hansen said his background in sports sets the platform to be a team player in the legislature. He said he would like to see the relationship between the state’s higher education system and the business community strengthened.

As of press time, Hansen had 16,423 votes and Eken had 17,080.

District 4 represents Clay and Norman counties and Detroit Lakes. Senators are elected to four-year terms and paid $31,140 per year.